Middle volumes in a trilogy are a hard piece of storytelling to pull off, and I think that’s what readers encounter in “The Legend of Luther Strode” #4. The first book introduces the major concepts and players, and gives a lay of the land. The last book usually wraps everything up in a hopefully satisfying manner. For the middle book, it’s often to primarily transition and get the characters to that conclusion. With “The Legend of Luther Strode” #4 (and the mini-series in general), I think it’s still in transition mode.
I’m not saying “The Legend of Luther Strode” has been a bad mini-series, not by any stretch of the imagination. I still like Luther and Petra as characters, and I feel like Justin Jordan is giving a lot of interesting concepts in regards to both Luther’s powers as well as the history of the ability. But there’s no denying that this issue (and story in general) is a lot more fight-scene oriented than the original “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” mini-series.
It’s ultimately the little moments in “The Legend of Luther Strode” #4 that click well. The Binder’s conversation with Petra, for instance, helps solidify more about what this new character is up to and how his motivations brought him this far. The kitchen conversation is also well handled; it’s not necessarily a huge revelation, but it’s a moment of quiet that helps clarify a supporting character, and for a monologue that will perhaps be a last hurrah before death, it serves its purpose with a certain amount of flair.
Credit where it’s due, though; these fight scenes wouldn’t be half as interesting if it wasn’t for Tradd Moore. I’m loving his art more and more, with the big arcs of curls that whip off of people’s heads, or the electron orbits of slashes and stabs when Jack begins to fight Luther. This is a ridiculously energetic comic, and while there are lots of little touches to soak in as well (like the blood design on Luther’s chest that matches what we saw on the box that imprisoned Jack last month), it’s the huge moments that bring everything crashing down that give this comic both a metaphorical and literal punch. I also want to give Moore some special props for this month’s cover; considering my first thought was that they’d hired Bill Sienkiewicz to draw it, I was that much more impressed when I discovered it was by Moore, too.
“The Legend of Luther Strode” #4 is a comic that shows us a story in transition. Will it draw new readers in in the way that the original mini-series did? Honestly, I don’t think so. It’s not quite the gateway “you must read this” comic as the first time around. For those who are reading, though, I think this is ultimately going to prove to be quite satisfying once everything wraps up.